Surplus activated sludge dewatering in pilot-scale sludge drying reed beds

Alexandros Stefanakis, Christos Akratos, Paris Melidis, Vassilios Tsihrintzis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A pilot-scale experiment on dewatering of surplus activated sludge (SAS) is presented, where two pilotscale vertical flow, sludge drying reed beds (SDRBs), planted with Phragmites australis are used. The bottom of the beds is filled with cobbles, connected to the atmosphere through perforated PVC ventilation tubes, in order to achieve oxygen diffusion through the overlying porous medium that is colonized by roots and an abundant nitrifying biomass. Two layers of gravel, of decreasing size from bottom to top, make the drainage layer where the reeds are planted. The two beds were fed according to the following cycle: one week feeding with SAS at rates one 30 kg/m2/year and the other 75 kg/m2/year, and resting for three weeks. The results show that planted SDRBs can effectively dewater SAS from domestic sewage, the produced residual sludge presents a high dry weight content, the degree of volume reduction depends upon the initial SAS concentration and can be of the order of 90%, and decomposition of organic matter and high levels of mineralization can be achieved. Furthermore, the percolating water is not septic. The fertilizer value of the treated SAS, which contains no added chemicals, is comparable to that of SAS treated by other methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1122-1130
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2009


  • Surplus activated sludge
  • Dewatering
  • Sludge drying beds
  • Reeds


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